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 Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 13:05 GMT
Britain's best-run club?
Charlton fans join in the celebrations at The Valley on the 10th anniversary of the club's return
Charlton fans stayed loyal through the bad times

Charlton's 2-0 win over Liverpool was the perfect anniversary present for a club celebrating 10 years since returning to its spiritual home - The Valley.

In the dark days of the late 1980s, Charlton wandered around London seeking a ground - a homeless club in irreversible decline it seemed.

Now comfortably ensconced in the Premiership, Charlton are held up as an example to smaller clubs around the country of how it can be done.

But how have Charlton turned themselves around? BBC Sport Online examines the reasons for the Addicks' rejuvenation.


Managerial stability

Charlton boss Alan Curbishley
Curbishley's management has been a crucial ingredient

Perhaps the key to Charlton's resurgence has been the complete faith that the club has shown in manager Alan Curbishley.

'Curbs' rejoined the club as player/coach in 1990, became co-manager in 1991 before taking over sole responsibility in 1995, making him the Premiership's second longest-serving boss.

It is no coincidence that in the time Manchester City have had seven managers and bounced between the Premiership and Division Two, Charlton's stability has seen the club quietly go from strength-to-strength.


Directors' support

Charlton's board of directors remains almost completely anonymous, unlike other more high-profile Premiership chairmen and directors who seem incapable of staying out of the papers.

The board, while always sure not to spend beyond their means, have consistently backed Curbishley's transfer judgement.

They are also the only club in the country to have an elected fans' representative on the board.


Fantastic fans

Charlton won their first game on their return to The Valley thanks to Colin Walsh's goal
Charlton players applaud the fans on the club's return to The Valley in 1992

Fans of every club always like to think they've had it tough, but Charlton's die-hard supporters have had it tougher than most.

With the club forced out of The Valley in 1985 in financial disarray, the fans had to traipse across London for groundshare arrangements at Crystal Palace and West Ham during what are now unfondly remembered as the 1980's 'wilderness years'.

Taking matters into their own hands, Charlton fans formed the Valley Party in 1989 to put pressure on Greenwich Council.

Their hard work was rewarded with an emotional return to the ground on 5 December 1992 after seven years of exile.


Financial prudence

Charlton have taken great pains not to spend beyond their means.

It sounds simple, but Charlton's refusal to succumb to late 1990s football financial orthodoxy - spending as much as possible on ageing foreign stars regardless of your income - saw them prosper when they were relegated from the Premiership in 1999.

Rather than having to offload all their best players and start from scratch, Charlton simply regrouped and won Division One with some superb attacking football.


Players

Charlton are one of the few Premiership clubs to display any interest in the good old-fashioned system of pin-pointing lower division players, buying them cheaply and turning them into quality top-level performers.

Goalkeeper Dean Kiely was signed for a bargain 1m from Bury in 1999. He is now a Republic of Ireland international and one of the most reliable keepers in the Premiership.

Charlton have also developed an extremely productive academy - first team regulars and England U21 players Paul Konchesky, Richard Rufus and Scott Parker have all come through the ranks.

Click here for all the latest from the My Club section

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12 Dec 02 | Charlton Athletic
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